There are two nuns in a bath. One says, 'Where's the soap?'
The other says, 'Yes, it does, doesn't it?'
Once someone had explained this joke to me, I realised it was the funniest joke I'd heard since the one about George Michael, the pot of yoghurt, the door-to-door salesman, the blindfold, the horrified cat and the 30-man team of contract cleaners.
Anyway, that's not the point. The point is this: jokes make you laugh.
And laughing, my friends, can be Exocet Numero Uno in your Ground-To-Air Arsenal of Career Advancement Weaponry.
'Laughing, Dave?' you say, eyes quizzical and vulnerable, like a young boy who's just realised that his father isn't coming back - a boy who isn't called Dave, okay, and wasn't wearing a t-shirt with 'My Dad Rules OK!' on it, just in case you were fucking wondering.
Yes. Laughing. Laughing can be the mortar that bonds you to the other bricks in the Management Wall - the egg, if you will, in The Board Level Success & Bacon Quiche.
Of course, it's not just as simple as laughing. You can't just spend your day laughing like a drain at everything. People will think you're fucking bipolar, or on a hen night.
There are different kinds of laugh you need to master as you progress through your career. So don't be a massive cunt like usual - read and learn.
The Executive Laugh
It's your first job, you're an exec - possibly junior - and you're surrounded by senior people who appear to think that they're funny. I know, I know - they're not funny. They're as funny as smears of effluent left on the crusted slacks of a particularly lazy colostomy patient. I agree.
(Incidentally, you wouldn't think that if you worked for me. I really am funny. Last week, I told one of my team she could lose weight by sucking my wanger because it's got zero calories. I mean, that is funny shit.)
To advance along your professional goal-path, you need to give these unfunny senior people the impression that they are funny senior people.
That's where the Executive Laugh comes in. It's simple. When they say something you think is meant to be funny, simply laugh as naturally as possible and end with the phrase, '...oooh, you are so funny!'
I guarantee it will work, especially if you're a woman.
The Manager Laugh
Now you're a manager, you've got a team, you've got senior people above you - you're in the middle. That's why you need two laughs.
Manager Laugh One is for your minions...I mean, valued team members. One of them has made a joke, but you can't give them the impression it's funnier than your jokes, so you need a laugh that acknowledges without praising. Just let out two polite aha ha's, then say '...aaanywaaaay' and move on. Job done. They've been noticed and belittled at the same time.
Manager Laugh Two is for your seniors. Obviously, they need to think they're seriously fucking funny even though it's a proven fact that the more senior the person, the worse their sense of humour. This is a Knockles Fact (though it doesn't apply to me, obvs). So, when one of them makes a joke that's as funny as a penile tumour, just laugh nice and long and loud - but throw your head right back as you do it. Laugh at the ceiling, thus drawing attention to the laugh and the fact that you're laughing it. If other people try the same move, throw your head further back. Even if you end up laughing up your own shit-chute, DO IT.
The Board Level Laugh
You've made it. You're on the board. Like I am. Yes, me. I'm on the board. Sorry, the Board. Anyway, this is where shit gets real. And laughing shit gets seriously real. What you need here is a fucking BIG laugh. You need a laugh that will wake the dead on other planets, like Oldham or Somerset. You need a booming laugh that will pop your natty new corporate braces and startle wildlife. Don't be subtle, don't be coy - when someone senior to you on the board (and ONLY someone senior to you) cracks a funny, you laugh like you need that laugh to be heard in a faraway galaxy by the only people who can save your dying civilization, defeating the alien monsters who are about to slice your childrens' heads off.
LAUGH LIKE YOUR LIFE DEPENDS UPON IT.
There are two reasons for this. One, it honours the joke-teller and shows you to be a like-minded individual. Two, it needs to be heard by all the dross - sorry, I've done it again - all the valued team members outside the boardroom, who will hear you inside guffawing like a herd of pissed buffalo and realise that you inhabit a different world, a world they are not allowed to visit.
Think of your BIG, BIG LAUGH as your passport to that world.
So there you are. Gold-plated advice from a man who's been at the top of your game for decades. If you don't take it, that's fine - you can just Hootie And The Blowyourself. I couldn't give a flying turd.
Why? Because I AM THE CLIENT!